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Hannah (Dautoff) Hanzen
 
Hannah Hanzen once said, "No, I don't believe in women in politics, I don't believe in men in politics, I believe in people in politics."

Born Hannah Dautoff in Portland, Oregon, Dautoff and her siblings were raised by her widowed mother after Dautoff's father died in Skagway during the Alaska Gold Rush. As a young girl, Dautoff became interested in the law at age 10, when she became convinced that her mother had been cheated by a lawyer.

At 18 Dautoff went to New York City where she lived for six year and was employed in a number of occupations, including child care. She also lived for a time in Cuba, returning to Oregon in 1920.

Having only an eighth grade education, Dautoff was admitted to the Willamette University School of Law in Salem. Four years later she graduated and passed the state bar examination. Dautoff practiced law with her husband, Ivan Martin, an attorney and former legislator, specializing in domestic relations. "You'd be surprised how many people I talked out of getting divorces," she commented. Yet her own first marriage ended in divorce.

In 1932, she was the first woman elected to the Oregon Legislature where she served four terms. During these eight years, she became known as a spitfire who did her homework and was a match for anyone. She recalled later that she "was never looking for a fight, but...wasn't there to be stepped on, either...The year and issues change, but people don't change very much."

In 1942 she cracked another all-male stronghold when she was elected Salem Municipal Judge, serving one term. Dautoff's marriage to Harry Hanzen led her to withdraw from her legal career, much to the disappointment of the police department whose members were ready to campaign for her second term.

After retirement, Mrs. Hanzen served as president of the Salem Women's Club, corresponding secretary of the Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs, and Executive Secretary of the Marion County Bar Association. She also was an instructor at Willamette University.

In her senior years she enjoyed walking "at a Harry Truman pace" and worked out with Indian clubs, a fitness tool that was popular early in the 20th century. Hanzen stayed vigorous through her participation with four senior citizen groups.

Iin March of 1984, at age 90, she was smiling happily as she posed with a birthday balloon for a photograph in Salem's Statesman Journal newspaper. Mrs. Hanzen died in Portland, Oregon on June 20, 1989 at the age of 94. She was survived by her nephew, Boyd Davidson of that city, and Elspeth Alexander of Seattle.

Researched and written by Virginia Green

Bibliography:
Duniway, David. " Hannah Hanzen" Panegyric, Salem, OR: Mission Mill Museum, Volume IV, April 11, 1975.
(Note: Document courtesy of Marion County Historical Society, Salem, OR.)

Obituary. "Hannah Hanzen" Salem Statesman Journal, June 24, 1989, Page 2b.

 

 
Hannah Hanzen
Hannah Hanzen
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